Monday, November 23, 2009

Five Reasons to Pledge

In the season of stewardship, I'm reminded how important it is to promise our generous hearts again and again. Revisiting what we value and what we can share is at the core of discipleship and spiritual growth. I'm a big fan of this habit and here are five reasons you can be, too:

1. Taking the Time. Reflecting about and discussing your gifts as a household or congregation is an important way to witness the way your life changes over time. It happens in a more stoic way when you fill out tax forms: you watch your education, income, investments and liabilities change with each passing year. Taking time to consider these responsibilities from a spiritual perspective can change the way you experience writing checks, paying bills and sharing your gifts.

2. Sharing, not Losing. Whenever I sit in the pews and see the offering plate coming, I fumble through my wallet. It's an awkward moment while I hope for a bill that is "enough", but "not too much". I'll admit that tossing that crumpled bill into the plate feels more like losing than sharing. Giving sporadically and last minute doesn't usually feel generous and that's because it comes from a moment of pressure that does not make time for the reflection I mentioned above. Planning to give connects us to the ritual in a thoughtful and joyful way that can transform our stewardship theology.

3. Worthy gifts. Many people don't pledge because they don't think the amount they share is worthy of being proclaimed and promised ahead of time. Yikes! Whether you commit to sharing $1 or $1,000 a week, it matters and it makes a difference. Whatever you have to give is worthy of being shared.

4. Word and deed. Making a promise and acting on it again and again is a physical lesson about God's love for us. Every time God forgives us and renews us through our baptism, God is keeping that big promise made through Jesus Christ. With each grace-filled act in relationship with us, God recalls the promise and it becomes new again. Pledging is a bold and simple way to respond to God's promise and action in our lives.

5. Body of Christ. Have you ever watched pledge cards pile up in a basket or offering plate? Those promises add up to do miraculous things in the name of God. Committing to share your gifts means standing together with your Christian brothers and sisters in ministry and mission for a purpose beyond yourself. It means trusting that together our gifts are divine abundance, more than enough to change the world.

Lord, blessings abound in you. Teach us to trust that what you provide is more than enough. Open our hands and satisfy our hearts. Amen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

And two shall become one. It's fool proof!

I asked Berit to be my wedding coordinator for several reasons. Our moms are identical twin sisters and sometimes we can be so in sync, it's startling. Being on the same page in the height of chaos would be important.

Berit works in early childhood with families, small children and toddlers. That means she deals with boundary and ownership issues all day and can definitely handle the big personalities, a rowdy bridesmaid or a mother who thinks it's all about her. I also knew she would take the responsibility seriously, finding ways to go above and beyond the job description.

Each wedding taught has us new ways to be more efficient or flexible and we learned from every mistake made behind the scenes. I also watched Berit really enjoy each couple - I saw her crouch down with the tiny flower girls and ring bearers, cheering them down the 90 ft. aisle from her discreet niche in the narthex. I watched her find a bride who wandered off and teach ushers the ropes.

As I preached about becoming one flesh and the power of marriage, Berit and I were also becoming one. Our last wedding of the season was this weekend and it was anything but stressful. Each event has taught us something about time management and organization. Coming up with creative communication strategies earned a subtle, genetic victory dance and the phrase, "It's fool proof!". As the season progressed, we had to check in with each other less often and things became second nature. I don't want to brag, but we were awesome. Seriously. I'm glad you weren't there because you would have regretted not having us at your own wedding.

And really. Who wouldn't want these two in charge of their special day?